Retail Resolutions for Marketplace Success in the New Year

Does your business need to hit the gym?

Whew! The holidays are over and you’re ready for a break, right? You’ve earned a bit of down-time, and it’s always good to recharge, but before you unplug completely, take a look at the calendar. It turns out that 2019 is upon us.

The new year – with all its exciting possibilities – is here. To help you confidently charge into the new year, prepared and set up for success, we’re sharing some of the best ideas from business experts and the blogs of our Marketplace partners. Check out these insights and best practices that should be on every Marketplace seller’s list of retail resolutions.

#1 Make time for reflection

You can’t get directions if you don’t know where you are

Although it’s tempting to close the book on this year’s holiday rush and wipe all those long days and stressful moments from your memory, there’s one more thing you need to do before jumping into your plans for next year. Review. Set aside time to do a thorough analysis of your accomplishments, challenges, and overall results.

You may be thinking that you have plenty of data, and you can tap into it at any time. But you likely have other observations and anecdotes – especially from the holiday season – that you should also capture now, before time can erase the valuable insights they provide. So make your notes, talk to your team, and identify the areas you’d like to focus on improving this year. If you’re still not sure after doing some analysis, the suggestions below may help.

#2 Know the rules

Many new laws and regulations go into effect in January

You may have seen news about laws as they passed in 2018, but often they actually go into effect in January. It’s wise to seek out a business attorney who can help you keep abreast of regulations that may impact your marketplace operations. 2018 saw a lot of change for marketplace facilitators and their sales tax obligations, and 2019 is likely to see more. You can see how Walmart Marketplace handles sales tax collection in our Sales Tax Collection Overview on Seller Help.  You can also keep yourself informed by following blogs specific to eCommerce or specific legal topics. However you pursue your information, make sure you’re not caught unaware by legal changes.

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The Sales Tax Blog by TaxJar

Need help understanding why or how marketplace facilitator laws work? This informative post includes background information as well as details about how your business may be impacted. It also includes details for the states that have passed legislation to date. Note that effective dates may not apply to Walmart, see Seller Help for details.

#3 Manage inventory like a boss

Dig in to fully understand inventory management concepts and tools

If you’ve ever found yourself cancelling orders because you were unexpectedly out of stock, or conversely, have found excess inventory sitting around for months, you may have inventory management issues to address. With its implications on your profit margin and customer experience, your inventory strategy deserves some attention as you plan for the upcoming year. Review concepts and processes to better evaluate your systems. And as you look ahead, consider tools that can help improve your omnichannel operations.

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In this comprehensive post, you’ll learn why inventory management is a critical area to master and see the advantages of an optimized system. You’ll also get a deep-dive into the terms and concepts involved. And once you have the full picture, you can review tips for choosing software to help you manage it all.

With data showing that U.S. retailers are currently sitting on about $1.43 in inventory for every $1 of sales they make, businesses can’t stall any longer on implementing an effective inventory management system.

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Managing inventory for one store can be a challenge. So optimizing your inventory strategy in the world of omnichannel retail is obviously a key concern. In this post, Etail’s CEO explains how Distributed Order Management (DOM) systems can help you meet this challenge.

Traditional order management systems (OMS) – which were designed long before omnichannel existed – aren’t flexible enough to support multiple channels, fulfillment methods, locations and return points.

#4 Prioritize pricing

Think of item pricing as a competitive tool instead of a one-time task 

Naturally, you wouldn’t begin selling a new product without investigating how to price it for the market. But if you settle on a price and then never touch it again, you may be missing out on a way to drive more sales. Understanding how repricing software can be used to carry out advanced strategies may help you grow sales in ways you haven’t considered before.

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For sellers who are serious about taking their pricing skills to the next level, this post and the rest of the series on repricing strategies are must-reads. Descriptions and examples offered in this article help explain the circumstances and automated processes that may make pricing below your competition a method for increasing your profits overall.

While pricing below competition cuts into your profit per sale, there’s a chance it can boost your overall profit —if you’re able to drive enough sales to more than make up for the decrease in profit per sale.

#5 Make fulfillment more fulfilling

Last year’s shipping strategy may not be ideal for 2019

Even if you’ve spent time reviewing your shipping options in the past, changes in fees and improvements in services make this a topic worth revisiting. Make sure you know about changes coming your way. Learn about options that can help you improve and scale. Then, review your shipping operations to make sure you’re not sending dollars out the door with your packages.

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The US Postal Service has announced changes you don’t want to miss. Review the changes and see what conclusions can be drawn in this detailed post with tables and examples.

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Once you’ve calculated how increased shipping fees will impact your business, you’ll likely be wondering what you can do to save on this unavoidable business expense. Check out the resources and unique ideas offered up in this helpful post.

Remember that reducing shipping costs isn’t just about postal rates, it’s also about the supplies you need to mail your orders.

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If you decide to outsource fulfillment, you should take a look at the key points in this post. Starting from the premise that shipping is an integral factor in the overall customer experience, the list includes questions to ask that go beyond the obvious to help you scale as you grow.

Tip: Ask if they use shared-space warehousing, where they work with multiple customers in a single space. This will will help with scale when needed.

#6 Win the returns game

Make sure your returns experience works for you and your customers

Given the impact product returns can have on online retailers, no plan for 2019 can be complete without addressing this concern. You may consider returns an inevitable evil, but research shows otherwise. In fact, a few steps taken now could lead to a much quieter post-holiday return season next year.

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Check out our related article, where we offer a returns playbook for our Marketplace sellers. Review interesting insights about returns from customer surveys and learn surprising ways to reduce returns of your items.

In a recent Narvar survey summarized by Marketing Land, 95% of the shoppers polled reported that having a great return experience would influence them to buy from a retailer again. And 49% said they check return policies before making their online purchases.

#7 Stay on top of industry trends and insights

You never know what might spark your next Aha! moment

It’s easy to get so busy with your daily operations that you lose sight of the big picture. As you look ahead and plan for success in the next 12 months, set aside time to look beyond your own business. If this is a new focus for you, implement a solid habit-forming strategy like scheduling a recurring time dedicated to this purpose. Treat yourself to a fancy coffee or fresh-air break while you review industry blogs and catch up on eCommerce news to turn it into your favorite time of the day or week. Gleaning just one golden nugget of useful insight can make the investment worthwhile.

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In this quick read, you’ll find a summary of top eCommerce trends to be aware of in 2019. Use the list to inspire further research into topics that interest or concern you.

Service bots are expected to account for nearly 85 percent of online service by 2021.

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Ecommerce Insights by Ecomdash

You may have no interest in changing or expanding your product offering, but being aware of product trends is still important and useful. This post offers reasons to consider selling niche products, tips for those who decide to do so, a list of trending niches, and a review of the options for fulfilling orders.

Ecomdash also publishes Ecommerce lately articles each month, which offer a quick snapshot of the month in review, making it a good resource to add to your industry insights bookmarks.

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